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Why doesn't a replacement HP Touchpad digitizer respond like the original?

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In general, these things are pretty rugged, so I doubt you damaged it.

The quality of many parts from certain countries is very very poor.

As long as the digitizer is staying in one place, the tape does not matter. That's more to hold it together during shipment/assembly than in use. The digitizer should work regardless of spacing, it's so flexible that it does not matter.

If it's working at all, you did not damage anything. However if you did something like fold the digitizer in half or drop it in water, all bets are off.:)

eBay. One approach is to buy a dead unit and scavenge it's screen (and or swap motherboards to create one working unit).